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Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor
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Who Fears Death (edition 2010)

by Nnedi Okorafor

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6524014,774 (3.79)106
Member:rossarn
Title:Who Fears Death
Authors:Nnedi Okorafor
Info:Daw Books (2010), Hardcover, 304 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:***1/2
Tags:None

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Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

  1. 30
    Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson (PhoenixFalls)
  2. 31
    The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin (electronicmemory)
    electronicmemory: Who Fears Death is post-apocalyptic futuristic fantasy and The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms draws from classical sword and sorcery, but both are excellent novels about heroines who have found themselves beset and gifted (or possibly cursed) by powers beyond reckoning, while caught up in a political and supernatural power struggle that spans generations and eventually time itself.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
Who Fears Death is about a young Ewu (biracial) girl in post-apocalyptic Africa. Onyesonwu is the product of a brutal rape in a struggle between two races, the Okeke and the Naru. The Naru are intent on enslaving and then killing the Okeke. Onyesonwu discovers that she has magical abilities and decides to try to become a sorceress so she can help the genocide of her mother's people. The characters in the book contend with many issues that are currently plaguing Africa - racism, genocide, treatment of women (and female circumcision), and children being forced to become soldiers. Onyesonwu's quest to stop the genocide is interesting and filled with fresh magic based on African religions and folklore. I liked Onyesonwu, she is a strong female character who has her flaws. She is not all powerful and relies on her friends to complete the quest. The quest is also realistic, it is not full of adventure and fun. The characters grate on each other and realize that hiking through the desert is not all fun and games. However, as much as I appreciated the fact that the trip was hard, I did begin to tire of the drama and whining of some of the characters. It seemed so unimportant in the context of their goals and I just wanted them to snap out of it. I also thought that the final confrontation was a bit of a let down after the long and drawn out trip. I felt like it was over too fast and too easy for all the build up. Overall I definitely recommend this book to those interested in Africa or unique fantasy. I will caution that the the author does not hold back in describing the brutal aspects of the story (rape, circumcision, genocide) and there is a lot of focus on sex in the book (although no descriptive sex scenes). ( )
  Cora-R | Jan 13, 2016 |
Did not finish ( )
  Matt_B | Nov 23, 2015 |
Review contains spoilers.

Overall, I enjoyed Who Fears Death, and was fascinated to read a modern fantasy novel not rooted in Judeo-Christian mythology. However, I struggled with some of the lack of consequences and resolutions throughout the novel. Especially in one off subplots (ex: when they hide in the cave during the thunderstorm), unsettling and horrifying things are introduced but no explanation is ever offered. These minor incidents don't seem to impact the characters going forward. Only landmark events throughout the plot seem to have a lasting effect on Onye.

I also struggled a lot with the way that some of the social issues were dealt with. The female genital mutilation was so horrific for the characters initially, but had a relatively easy fix and didn't go on to impact the characters after they'd been healed. Characters who were sexist or racist were generally sexist or racist at the end of the book, or they were cured by magic. There wasn't much nuanced middle ground there.

Despite some of these problems, I was invested in the story and cared about what happened to Onye. I would recommend this as an interesting read, even if things don't get tied up as neatly as they could have been. However, much of the content of this book is not for the faint of heart, and I would probably not recommend this to children under 15. ( )
1 vote junerain | Feb 9, 2015 |
I found this book depressing and relentlessly bleak. I kept going after a few incidents of intricately-detailed physical and emotional violence, but the protagonist's circumstances only got worse and worse. I did not like any of the characters, and the dialogue felt boring and inauthentic to me.

Due to the nature of its content, I could not bring myself to finish this book. ( )
  wishanem | Jan 27, 2015 |
I loved many things about this book, fantastic post-apocalyptic worldbuilding, fascinating characters, and a captivating storyline, full of complexity. The writing is clean, giving Onyesonwu a clear voice as she narrates her life story.

Onyesonwu is a wonderfully interesting character, full of both anger and compassion, able to strike out and provide healing, desiring revenge and yet not wanting to engage in the violence she sees around her. Likewise, her companions and teachers (there are many) are complicated too, with a variety of motivations and assumptions based on traditions or superstitions.

The story includes descriptions of rape, genocide, female circumcision, stoning, child soldiers, and other real-world violence that is horrifying (and sometimes hard to read), and yet handled with honesty, precision, and care. In the face of all this horror, the story could have easily turned into a downer, but hope, love, and friendship are weaved into the story as well. The story is powerful, deeply resonant, and one to think about long after having put it down. An amazing work of art.

I will definitely be reading more by Nnedi Okorafor. ( )
1 vote andreablythe | Dec 12, 2014 |
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Epigraph
"Dear friends, are you afraid of death?" - Patrice Lumumba, first and only elected Prime Minister of the Republic of the Congo
Dedication
To my amazing father, Dr. Godwin Sunday Daniel Okoroafor, M.D., F.A.C.S. (1940-2004).
First words
My life fell apart when I was sixteen. Papa died. He had such a strong heart, yet he died. Was it the heat and smoke from his blacksmithing shop? It's true that nothing could take him from his work, his art. He loved to make the metal bend, to obey him. But his work only seemed to strengthen him; he was so happy in his shop. So what was it that killed him? To this day I can't be sure. I hope it had nothing to do with me or what I did back then.
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Book description
Well-known for young adult novels (The Shadow Speaks; Zahrah the Windseeker), Okorafor sets this emotionally fraught tale in postapocalyptic Saharan Africa. The young sorceress Onyesonwu—whose name means Who fears death?—was born Ewu, bearing a mixture of her mother's features and those of the man who raped her mother and left her for dead in the desert. As Onyesonwu grows into her powers, it becomes clear that her fate is mingled with the fate of her people, the oppressed Okeke, and that to achieve her destiny, she must die. Okorafor examines a host of evils in her chillingly realistic tale—gender and racial inequality share top billing, along with female genital mutilation and complacency in the face of destructive tradition—and winds these disparate concepts together into a fantastical, magical blend of grand storytelling.
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Born into post-apocalyptic Africa to a mother who was raped after the slaughter of her entire tribe, Onyesonwu is tutored by a shaman and discovers that her magical destiny is to end the genocide of her people.

(summary from another edition)

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